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Homeland Security

US Faces Questions About Policing, Counterterrorism in UN Rights Review

by VOA News May 11, 2015

U.S. officials faced questions Monday in Geneva about the use of the death penalty, excessive force by police and national security measures as the United Nations' Human Rights Council conducted a review of the country's rights practices.

Justice Department official James Cadogan cited a number of recent high-profile cases involving police killing unarmed black men, saying the U.S. must do better to uphold civil rights.

'These events challenge us to do better and to work harder for progress,' Cadogan said.

The use of the death penalty in the United States also drew wide attention, with nations calling for abolishing the practice and others saying at a minimum the U.S. needs to take steps to ensure prisoners with intellectual disabilities are not executed.

In response to questions about the treatment of migrant workers, the U.S. delegation pledged that every effort is being made to protect their rights, including those to avoid the exploitation of children.

Monday's session also included a focus on CIA interrogation practices, the ongoing detentions at the U.S. facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. drone strikes, and surveillance operations by the National Security Agency.

Brigadier General Richard Gross said Guantanamo detainees continue to be held lawfully, and highlighted that nearly half of the population has been transferred from the facility since President Barack Obama took office with a pledge to close it.

He also said the U.S. military 'takes scrupulous care' in using force, including targeting specific terrorists in drone strikes.

'U.S. forces go to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties,' Gross told the council.

The review process will result in a report detailing the questions about U.S. human rights and a series of recommendations for addressing issues.

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